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Square Pegs: The sinister normalcy of Republican imagery

When I was growing up in South Carolina, my parents would receive thank-you cards from the Bush family. A card of George W. on the campaign trail thanking them for a minor contribution; a formal Christmas card of him and Laura on firm, glossy print in front of an 18-foot concolor fir, wishing everyone well. Such cards featured printed signatures and royal script: “With deepest appreciation for your support.” “With your help we can make America stronger, safer and more prosperous.” The Bushes introduced a Republican image for the new millennium, a business-casual upgrade from the more impersonal thank-you cards of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush at the RNC, raising their hands victoriously toward an unseen crowd; or the later portrait of Reagan in which he swapped out his family for his white, Anglo-Arabian stallion, El Alamein (named for the Egyptian town where Allied forces broke the Axis line). The George W. campaign cards, by contrast, were meant to invite upper-class empathy — a dorkish humanitarian campaign. W. hung on our refrigerator door alongside the magnets of Elvis and Michelangelo’s statue of David.

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